*ART CREDIT: Alfred Hitchcock Acrylic on Canvas
If you missed part 1 or 2 of “Sheltering in PEACE”, click here: Sheltering in PEACE; caring for kids with the “Isolation Blues” Archive
Too Many Toys, David Shannon
“Too much information does not ‘prepare’ a child for a complicated world; it paralyzes them.” –Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
Shift #1: from PROMOTING PANIC to FILTERING FEAR
My husband and I have been “spell-speaking” so much these days (you know, when you spell entire sentences around your young kids) that you’d think we were training for the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee (whenever that will be). There’s so much to take in and talk about —virus statistics, business closures, political pressures, work pressures, economic collapse, employee protests, drones— and almost all of it grim. My husband and I want to talk it out and vent about it all to sort through our own fears and anxieties over this whole pandemic; to somehow make sense of it and ultimately come to peace with it.
BUT THE KIDS.
They may not always be watching, but they are always listening and always sensing. Listening to our words, our inflections, our tone. Sensing our agitation, our stress, our fear. I’m so guilty of this one. My theatre background really gets the best of me when it comes to showing everything I’m feeling on my face and in my body language. It’s amazing and startling to see my moods, my passions, my frustrations, and my worries reflected back to me in the faces and behaviors of our children. But thankfully, not everything I learned in my musical theatre days is there to bite me in the butt now that I’m a mom. I also learned this little gem, that haunts and hovers over me every single day:
“Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see
~Into the Woods, Steven Sondheim~
Overall, our home is a pretty sheltered one for our kids: we homeschool, we don’t listen to the news, we don’t watch TV (but we do watch movies), and we have a “no news or politics” conversation-policy around the kids (at least until they are a little older). Initially, all we told our eldest about the COVID19 pandemic was that there is a “bad virus” going on that can put the elderly or people with health complications in a difficult situation. We purposefully omitted the rest: that people are dying by the thousands, that my husband is daily at risk in his job working in a hospital setting, that we are worried sick about our health-compromised loved-ones and grandparents, or that the country’s economy and general morale is in crisis. We haven’t even named the virus to him. . . it seems it would somehow give it more power. . . if that makes any sense. All we wanted was for him to have a cursory understanding of why we couldn’t go to the park, library, or zoo and to help empower him to champion staying home to help keep his community safe. We haven’t lied, but we’ve edited and kept many things quiet as I’m sure most of us with young children have.
After all, partial ignorance in childhood isn’t merely bliss, it’s a child’s privilege of peace.
Even so, over the past month, having just read a disturbing news headline or worrisome text message from a family member, my husband and I have occasionally slipped and let up the filter. And sure enough, our son has picked up bits and pieces of the pandemic crisis, if even just through observing our facial expressions and moods as we “spell-speak” for five minutes at a time. We’ve caught ourselves and extinguished the spark of worry as quickly as possible, which has been relatively easy at his young age.
But these moments have got me thinking about the older kids. The kids who are too old for their parents to “spell-speak” around them, or brush off what awful thing they’ve just heard or seen on the internet news or on TV with a mere reassuring phrase and smile or sneaky diversion. How are the big kids of the world coping with all of this right now —being yanked out of school, games, events, and milestones cancelled, cut off from their social-lives, plunged into homeschool, and kept in isolation with their families? Are they scared for their health, for their futures? Do they feel lonely, powerless, purposeless? What will life after COVID19 look like for these kids? My guess is that we will have a lot of PTCD (post-traumatic-COVID-disorder) to work through. That is, if we don’t do everything in our power right now to PREVENTATIVELY and PROACTIVELY filter the fear.
My favorite parenting book of all time, Simplicity Parenting, is even more relevant now in light of our present climate than it has been yet in it’s decade of print. Today’s discussion on “filtering fear” is inspired by the incredible insights and recommendations in this book by M. Ed. Kim John Payne, along with the list of quarantine mental-health tips I posted yesterday.
Chester the Worldly Pig, Bill Peet
Ways that parents PROMOTE PANIC:
ALLOWING OUR KIDS TO SEE OR HEAR THE NEWS:
“The media, pervasive and relentless, play a large part in parental anxieties. When graphic details of the same unfortunate story are broadcast through countless media outlets—from network and cable news to Internet and Palm Pilot news feeds— its emotional effect is exponential. A sense of danger becomes heightened and personal when horrors are delivered right into our living rooms, when they follow us throughout the day, wherever we go.” –Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
TALKING TOO MUCH: about the news, about grandma, our concerns, our worries, our fears. . .
ASKING TOO MANY QUESTIONS: Are you feeling ok? How are you dealing with all of this? Do you miss your friends?
“. . . allow a child more leeway and privacy with their own feelings. By imposing our emotions on them less, we allow our children to develop their own emotions, and their awareness of them. Rather than taking their emotional temperature with probing questions. . . we can be available and willing to listen. Follow their lead as to what and how much they want to express.” –Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
ACTING STRANGELY: following an odd or out-of-the-ordinary routine, not dressing for the day or carrying out our normal activities (at least the ones we can), acting despondent or frantic, etc.
SURVIVING RATHER THAN THRIVING: if our goal is to “get by”, that message will be clearly communicated to our kids and may cause them to panic. We need to rally and use this isolation time to thrive (albeit in potenially different ways) rather than simply survive or “get by”.
NOT HAVING ANY GOALS: for ourselves, for our families, for our communities. . .
Ways that parents can FILTER FEAR:
BEING PRESENT & PLAYFUL: listening more, spending more time, making room for humor, playing with our kids, just being there. . .
UNPLUGGING BAD NEWS: turning off the tv, radio, shutting off social media and the internet altogether, turning off the podcast (at least while the kids are around). . .
I have no problem with parents having what media access they need to be informed and connected. I am suggesting, however, that parents consciously say no thanks to media overexposure. Limit or cut your use of media that alarm rather than inform. It can make a dramatic difference in your emotional life, and the emotional climate in your home, when you refuse to allow your fear to be provoked, stoked, and incited several times a day.” –Simplicity Parenting, Kim John Payne
MAINTAINING A SENSE OF NORMALCY: getting up, getting dressed, getting the day going, following somewhat of a normal schedule
ADDING ANCHORS AND RITUALS TO OUR DAYS: adopting a SET reading time, tea time, art time, conversation time. . . any regular activity you can add to your day that helps you and your child connect and escape together. . . but make it consistent, something your child can count on and look forward to as an “anchor” for their day. My husband and son have been catching ants every afternoon— I’ll stick with “Cozy Corner” (books and teatime), thank you.
- For tips on adding normalcy and anchors/rituals to your day, check out my previous post: DAY 2: Create a NEW NORMAL
ESCAPING WITH OUR KIDS INTO NATURE (even virtually): embrace nature-themed books, art, activities, documentaries, music, anything that helps connect you and your kids to the great outdoors.
- Check out my previous post about embracing nature during isolation: DAY 3: Sand, Water, Bubbles, Chalk, and Mud
- Check out this amazing collection of virtual field trips: Wonders of the World
- Watch this CHARMING real nature cinematography plus animation movie that the entire family can appreciate. . . truly unique and thoroughly enjoyable: Miniscule: Valley of the Lost Ants (Amazon Prime Video)
ESCAPING WITH OUR KIDS THROUGH BIBLIOTHERAPY: get lost in a good book with your kids, especially one that empowers your child through the challenges/heroism/bravery of it’s characters.
- Watch for my next post: “Isolation Blues” Bibliotherapy Book Lists for all ages!
- In the meantime, you can start with my regular Book Lists for all ages: DAY 1: Book It!
TEACH OUR KIDS EMPOWERING VERSES OR RECITATIONS: “Be still and know that I am God”, “Fear not, for I am with you says the Lord”. . .
- Check out this super fun and easy-to-learn Sunday School / Vacation Bible School Song that is a true childhood (and adulthood) favorite of mine. I’ve been singing this one a lot lately:
Thank you for following our “Sheltering in PEACE” journey. For more posts about supporting your kids through the “Isolation Blues”, click here: Sheltering in PEACE; caring for kids with the “Isolation Blues” Archive
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~